tv CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley CBS August 23, 2013 4:30pm-5:01pm PDT
>> schieffer: tonight, planning for a u.s. military strike against syria. as the death toll rises, the pentagon makes preparations for action, but will the president give the go-ahead? david martin that has story. the fastest-growing wildfire in the country now covers 165 square miles and it is just entered yosemite national park. theresa garcia is on the scene. something is killing dolphins along the east coast. terrell brown has the latest on the search for clues. and "on the road," steve hartman catches motorists smiling in a no-smiling zone. >> never so happy to get a ticket in my life. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley. >> schieffer: good evening,
scott's off tonight, i'm bob schieffer. cbs news has learned that the pentagon is making the initial preparations for a cruise missile attack on syrian government forces. we say "initial preparations" because such an attack won't happen unless and until the president gives the green light, and it was clear during an interview on cnn today he is not there yet. >> if the u.s. goes in and attacks another country without a u.n. mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, do we have the coalition to make it work, and those are considerations that we had to take into account. >> schieffer: the attack on the damascus suburbs which left hundreds dead this week is looking more and more like a poison gas was used.
the united states warned syria months ago that using chemical weapons could provoke a u.s. response. two reports tonight, first david martin is at the pentagon. david? >> reporter: bob, president obama's national security advisor has just sent out a tweet calling what happened in syria an apparent chemical weapons attack. and the commander of u.s. forces in the mediterranean has ordered navy warships to move closer to syria to be ready for a possible cruise missile strike. launching cruise missiles from the sea would not risk any american lives. it would be a punitive strike designed not to topple syrian dictator bashar al-assad but to convince him he cannot get away the w using chemical weapons. joint chiefs chairman general martin dempsey is expected to present options for a strike at a white house meeting on saturday. potential targets include command bunkers and launchers used to fire chemical weapons. however, officials stress
president obama, who until now has steadfastly resisted calls for military interventions, has not made a decision. u.s. intelligence detected activity at known syrian chemical weapons sites in the days before the attack. at the time, that did not appear out of the ordinary. but now it is part of the circumstantial evidence pointing toward an attack. the clearest evidence would come from a team of u.n. exports already in damascus to investigate earlier smaller-scale incidents involving suspected chemical weapons. so far, they have not been allowed into the field, but with pictures providing graphic evidence of mass casualties, even russia, long one of the assad regime's staunchest backers, is calling for a u.n. investigation. whatever an investigation finds, president obama will also have to consider what he would doll next if he ordered a strike and syria continued to use chemical weapons. >> schieffer: thanks, dave. new photos out of syria today
make it even harder to conclude that the attacks were anything but a poison gas attack. holly williams talked to her sources there today and we warn you, the pictures in her report are difficult to watch. >> reporter: two days after the attack, more disturbing video has emerged of the aftermath. they are horrific scenes that show the dead and the dying. many of them children. this young boy describes struggling to breathe and then losing consciousness. when he woke up in hospital, he said, he could no longer see. it's impossible to verify how many people died, but in this crowded makeshift morgue, so many of the bodies were unidentified they were numbered. doctor ghazwan bwidany is caring for survivors of the attack at a clinic damascus. today we spoke with him over the internet. he told us his mobile medical unit treated 900 people, 70 of
whom died. >> reporter: dr. bwidany told us some of the survivors have neurological problems such as memory loss and confusion that he believes could only be caused by a nerve agent. if this wasn't a chemical attack what could it have been? >> reporter: we talked with a spokesman for the syrian opposition today who told us he is angry and frustrated with the international community. he believes that if the u.s. had delivered the arms it promised the opposition two months ago this deadly attack might not have happened. >> schieffer: holly williams. thanks, holly. at fort hood, texas, today, a military injury convicted major nidal hasan of the massacre that left 13 soldiers dead and more
than 30 others wounded. the murder verdict was unanimous which means hasan could get the death penalty. anna werner is at fort hood. >> reporter: major nidal hasan looked up at the jury foreman as she read out the decision. the jury voted unanimously that he was guilty on 13 counts of pre-meditated murder and also guilty of 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder. over 13 days, prosecutors laid out a detailed case to convince the jury that hasan came to believe he had a jihad duty to kill soldiers and then carried out a plan to do just that. they showed evidence hasan trained for months at a shooting then hid two guns and 420 rounds of ammunition in his army fatigues then went to a medical building where members of his own unit were prepareing to deploy. witnesses told of a scene of terror and chaos as hasan opened
fire on a group of 45 unarmed soldiers. they listened as a pregnant soldier-- private francesca velez-- begged for mercy saying "my baby, my baby" before she was shot and killed. hasan, who is representing himself, admitted "i am the shooter" in his opening statements. he did not testify or call any witnesses and made no chrarg. howard ray rescued soldiers at the scene that day. he wants hasan to get the death penalty. >> what we're talking about is assessing a punishment on someone that had total disregard for the lives of 13 men and women that day. total disregard. >> reporter: the judge admonished those seated in the courtroom-- including about a dozen victims' relatives-- not to display emotion when the verdict was read but, bob, as we were leaving the courtroom i saw tears in the eyes of a couple of those relatives. they've been waiting four years for this verdict. >> schieffer: all right, well, thank you, anna.
to egypt now. a week ago today tens of thousands of supporters of the muslim brotherhood who opposed military rule filled the streets. a thousand died in the crackdown that followed. today, the muslim brotherhood called for a return to the streets but it didn't happen. our charlie d'agata is in cairo. what did happen, charlie? >> reporter: well, today, bob, we saw just how dramatically the military has weakened the muslim brotherhood here. just after friday prayers, we saw a group gathering outside a mosque, maybe a hundred or so people and almost immediately they were outnumber bid local residents who support the military and forced them to move on. this is typical of the kind of demonstration wes saw here and elsewhere, the small protests that never really got going. there's a huge military presence here, tanks and barbed wire have choked off most of the main squares. it is clear the military has the upper hand-- at least for now. >> schieffer: all right. thank you so much, charlie.
40-year-old army sergeant robert bales will spend the rest of his life in prison. a military jury in washington state sentenced him today to life without parole for shooting 16 afghan civilians to death last year, most of them women and children. he pleaded guilty in june to avoid the death penalty. bales apologized for his actions but never tried to explain them. in san diego, the fate of mayor bob filner, accused of sexually harassing more than a dozen women, is still up in the air. ben tracy covering this one. ben? >> reporter: bob, the san diego city council is still in closed session right now. they're debating whether or not to approve this deal they made with mayor filner that includes his resignation. they're hoping to quickly end what has become san diego's civic nightmare. >> i bob filner -- >> reporter: when bob filner took office nearly nine months ago he was the first democrat elected mayor in san diego in 20 years. the 70-year-old promised to help
the homeless and bring jobs to the city. >> it's going to be a time of change for san diego. >> reporter: now even some of his strongest supporters admit filner ended up giving their stay black eye. 18 different women accused him of sexual harassment, including at least one city employee. at the council meeting this afternoon people from san diego announced support and anger. >> we're not fooled. we know this is a circus to get a good man out of office. >> reporter: julie adams. >> i came down here to let you know how determined our voters are debt-to-get this predator out of this building. >> reporter: many urged the city council not to pay off filner in exchange for his resignation. >> we're looking for a way out to get back to the business of the city and the public. >> reporter: city council president todd gloria will become the acting mayor. he says negotiating filner and covering his legal costs is a necessary evil. what do you say to the citizens of san diego who say he shouldn't get anything?
>> what i know that each day that passes that this man is mayor more bad thing happening to our city, fewer businesses are coming to san diego and our national reputation continues to be drug through the mud. >> reporter: we're told if this deal does go through, filner's resignation won't be immediate. apparently it was important to him during the negotiations, bob we're told he'll likely leave office next week. sheaf seif all right, thank you, ben. that huge wildfire in northern california spread into yosemite national park today. here's how it looks from space. the fire grew overnight from 99 square miles to more than 165, making it the fastest-growing of the dozens of western wildfires. the smoke has spread more than 100 miles from what's called the rim fire. teresa garcia is on the scene. >> reporter: the fire is threatening more than 4,500 structures. about half are in pine mountain lake. that's where we found ken cannobio. he was pumping water out of his
swimming pool to spray around his house. >> just trying to wet it down, get it as moist as possible. that's the main thing as far as if the flames get up here to put them out. >> reporter: cannobio has already packed a car for a quick getaway. more than a thousand people who live around him are already gone. >> there's a comfort zone i have that and it's pretty much down a few hundred yards. so it's looking like we're not going to have to leave right now but things can change. >> reporter: so your comfort zone changes when you see what? >> (laughs) red! >> reporter: more than 2,000 firefighters are battling the fire. bruce and his team work to clear brush and put out hot spots. >> it's holding right now so it's looking pretty good. the wind's in our favor. >> it's unreal. >> reporter: but air drops of water and flame retardant are the only ways to outflank a fire that now ranks among the 20 worst california has ever seen.
it is an incredible sight to behold as the smoke from the fire has claimed eight miles into the sky and, bob, evacuation orders have also just been issued for two more towns. >> schieffer: all right, thanks, teresa. steve ballmer, the c.e.o. of microsoft, announced today he'll retire some time in the next year. ballmer, who is 57, succeeded bill gates in 2000. they met 40 years ago at harvard. under ballmer microsoft has struggled to compete with apple and google. colorado gets a hailstorm in the dog days of summer. and why are dolphins dying along the east coast? when the "cbs evening news" continues. [ bell dings ] [ crowd cheering ] ♪ [ male announcer ] for sensitive skin, there's fusion proglide.
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they were compromised animals. some of them had skin lesions. they were just very sick individuals. >> reporter: marine biologists believe the dolphins could be suffering from a bacterial or viral infection with symptoms similar to measles. >> there's a lot of skin contact between. they're constantly rubbing each other so, yeah, the possibility of just spreading it amongst themselves is very large. >> reporter: it was a virus that killed nearly 750 dolphins from new york to florida in the late '80s. charles potter studied that epidemic. he's a marine mammal biologist at the smithsonian. he believes pollution could be weakening the dolphins' immune system. >> as the animals migrate south passing back through virginia and then going down to the carolinas, if this event follows what we saw in 1987, we can expect the epicenter of the epidemic to move south with the dolphins. >> reporter: when does this end? >> it will run its course but there's no way to know when the
end will come. >> reporter: late today, another dolphin was found dead on the jersey shore. terrell brown, cbs news, river head, new york. >> schieffer: a severe hailstorm left parts of colorado looking more like december than august. so much hail fail yesterday snowplows were deployed to clear streets in the suburbs southwest of denver. the icy runoff trapped one teenaged driver who was forced to abandon his car and head to higher ground. in a moment, we'll show you what happened when a biker neglected to bear left.
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>> schieffer: now for today's birth announcements. the national zoo tweets toward that the giant panda may-shong gave birth to her third cub, a female. a short time later, the zoo tells us she picked her up and cradled her. mai-shong delivered a cub in 2005 and another born last year lived only a week. it is not exactly a kodiak moment, but it is close. royal canadian mounted police say a motorcycle rider was too focused on recording his speed with his helmet cam to notice a bear crossing the road. they collided at 87 miles an hour. the biker survivored-- barely-- with broken bones and a speeding ticket. the bear walked away. according to court papers in chicago, brandon preveau drove
his girlfriend's car to his job at o'hare airport, the couple broke up and there the car sat for three years wracking up 678 tickets totaling $106,000. that is an all-time record for chicago and about 30 times more than the '95 chevy was worth. the city has agreed to settle the tickets for $4,500. preveau will pay about a third of it. his ex-girlfriend the rest. a deputy who gave out tickets for a living has set a record of his own. "on the road" with steve hartman is next. hey kevin...still eating chalk for heartburn? yeah... try new alka seltzer fruit chews. they work fast on heartburn and taste awesome. these are good. told ya! i'm feeling better already. [ male announcer ] new alka seltzer fruits chews. enjoy the relief!
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>> schieffer: there is a deputy sheriff in los angeles named elton simmons who has set a record when it comes to citizen complaints. but if he sounds like the last cop you'd want to run into on the highway, you would be wrong, which is why steve hartman did a story about him "on the road." >> reporter: this is l.a. sheriff's deputy elton simmons. and i bet you don't like him already, seeing him there hiding in the shadows. why can't he go catch some real criminals, you may be thinking. no wonder he has a record number
of complaints. who wouldn't complain about a guy whose sole purpose in life is to ruin your day. >> around the corner. >> reporter: by the very nature of the business, all l.a. traffic cop cans expect to get a few complaints every year. a lot of them are petty, people just mad because they got a ticket. regardless, they all get documented and place in the officer's personnel file. which is why captain pat maxwell was stunned when he started looking through simmons' file. >> i said "that's not possible." >> reporter: although he did see lots of commendations, looking back over the last 20 years, over the last 25,000 traffic stops, captain maxwell couldn't find one complaint. a record. zero. >> i mean, vegas or m.i.t. could not give you the odds of the statistical probability of that. >> reporter: obviously elton is doing something right. >> yeah, it's got to be something. >> pelley: do you know what it is? >> no idea. >> reporter: until the captain told him, elton didn't know he had such a record let alone how he got it. >> it's how i do it everyday. >> reporter: so we trailed him
to figure out how he does it. first thing i noticed that he has this pitch perfect mix of authority -- >> i need you to take care of that. >> and diplomacy. >> i don't want to keep pulling you over. >> reporter: with none of the attitude that sometimes comes with a cop. >> >> sorry! >> that's okay. just be careful. >> i'm here, i'm not up here. i hate to be looked down on it. can't stand it. i won't look down on you. >> reporter: that's why in luf a lecture he gives most people the benefit of the doubt. >> it happens. >> reporter: they still get the ticket, just not the guilt trip. the drivers seem to appreciate that. so much so that by the end some are down right smitten. >> that's a smile he's got a great smile. >> reporter: you're giggling now you just got a ticket. >> he's a nice guy! i mean -- how can you be mad at that guy? >> reporter: apparently you can't. >> disarming. >> reporter: time after time, ticket after ticket. >> never so happy to get a ticket in my life. >> reporter: we saw elton
simmons melt away a polar icecap of preconception. and his boss says there's a lesson in there for hard-nosed traffic cops everywhere. >> their excuse is "i give tickets all day long, i'm going to get complaints." well, that's not true. there's a way. there is a way to do it and elton simmons is the way. >> reporter: certainly no complaints here. steve hartman, "on the road" in los angeles. >> schieffer: and that is the news. sunday on "face the nation," we'll talk about the 50th anniversary of the march on washington with former secretary of state colin powell, georgia congressman john lewis and newark mayor cory booker. scott will be back here on monday. i'm bob schieffer in new york. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,